Taking the Sway Away - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Taking the Sway Away

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Pro Tip, RVEXPERT

Towing a travel trailer nearly always includes some amount of trailer sway, a condition that can get downright frightening if it gets bad enough — and if it’s not controlled, could result in an accident.

Travel trailer sway can be caused by a number of factors. One of the most common is insufficient hitch weight, which may be caused by the trailer’s design or the way the trailer is loaded. Also, longer trailers have more surface area for the wind to blow against, while light-weight or “ultra-light” trailers have reduced mass, make them easier to push around.

But even if your trailer has at least 10% of its weight on the hitch and it is correctly loaded, you may still experience trailer sway that is bad enough to make you feel uncomfortable while towing. We know of some RVers that won’t even tow at all on windy days for fear that they could lose control of their rig. If you’re new to RVing and are just beginning to shop for equipment, you should consider a hitch system that incorporates sway control. If you already own a hitch, often a sway control unit can be added to it. These are typically friction-type sway control systems that make it more difficult for sway to begin but aren’t designed to stop it once it starts. If you want to practically eliminate sway altogether, consider a complete hitch system designed for this purpose or an add-on electronic sway-control system. At about $400 to nearly $600, they’re not cheap, but have been proven to be extremely effective.

The Tuson Sway Control (TSC 1000) by Tuson RV Brakes close-up
The Tuson Sway Control (TSC 1000) by Tuson RV Brakes (tusonrvbrakes.com) is an electronic sway control solution featuring a patented asymmetric system (independent left- and right-side braking) that continuously monitors trailer yaw, rapidly identifying a trailer sway condition and applying braking force on one side of the trailer at a time, directly counteracting trailer sway with minimal speed loss and greater stability control, according to the company. Each TSC comes with a wired red/green LED light to show the functional status of the unit with different flashing modes for diagnostic troubleshooting. The unit is designed to be mounted on the trailer in an easy-to-see location from your tow vehicle mirrors. The TSC is wired directly into the trailer braking system and automatically adjusts to improve braking effectiveness, and even detects off-road towing conditions.
The Sway Command by Lippert product view
The Sway Command by Lippert (store.lci1.com) promotes safe towing by applying the trailer brakes before a major sway event can get out of control, according to the company. Incorporating advanced microprocessor technology, Sway Command electronically detects trailer sway and applies the trailer brakes to suppress sway. At the same time, an integrated accelerometer and gyro sensor quickly and accurately differentiates between side-to-side and up-and-down movement to prevent false activation. A light pod mounts to the front of the trailer and signals to the driver when the system is functioning properly.
If you ever encounter trailer sway while towing, apply the trailer brakes only using the brake controller — do not apply the tow vehicle’s brakes. The trailer brake application will force the trailer to pull itself straight again and will help slow the entire rig at the same time. If you think the sway was speed-related (it often can be) take note of your speed and when the sway occurred — and slow down.
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